Friday, October 12, 2007

Big Vendors Scrap for Enterprise 2.0 Supremacy

A new Forrester report analyzes how the big IT vendors are utilizing Web 2.0 products in the enterprise. As with most Forrester reports, it overlooks the many innovative startups in the 'Web Office' space - focusing instead of the big fish such as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle. However there is a new report coming soon that will address what Forrester calls "pure play" vendors. And it must be said that the big vendors are the ones many enterprises look to for their IT solutions, including web 2.0 technology. So let's check out this report and see what it has to say.

The crux of the report is that each of the biggest IT vendors Forrester looked at - Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP and BEA - has a unique perspective on the market. States Forrester:

- BEA, through acquisitions and new 2.0 products, now has numerous enterprise Web 2.0 capabilities, including blogs, wikis, communities, tagging, tag clouds, and a framework for building mash-up applications;
- IBM melds the world of application development with user experience with its WebSphere product family. It is a dominant player in the collaboration space and will deliver enterprise Web 2.0 functionality as part of its upcoming Lotus Quickr and Connections offerings;
- Microsoft's entry into the market is clear: if you want enterprise Web 2.0, you get it in Sharepoint;
- Oracle is a relevant infrastructure vendor and a thought leader in enterprise applications by offering Web 2.0 capabilities;
- SAP is looking to create end-to-end processes.

One company the report doesn't mention - at all - is Google. While not a traditional IT vendor for enterprise, Google is certainly a "big" vendor and making a lot of progress in enterprise. Forrester describes the enterprise 2.0 moves by big vendors like Microsoft and IBM as a "land grab". So Google should've been included, as it is grabbing its fair share of 'land' in the enterprise.

Having said that, traditional IT people will be quick to remind me that vendors like Google haven't necessarily got all the right solutions for enterprise yet: security and compliance are two areas where Google and other web 2.0 vendors have work to do. And the ability to integrate with existing business processes is another hot spot - the Forrester report points out that "line-of-business applications have traditionally been very focused on structured business processes", which is something that Microsoft, IBM et al have a lot of experience in.

Forrester came up with a good diagram showing how web 2.0 technologies could be implemented by the big vendors, to support business process:

Collaboration is the name of the game with Enterprise 2.0, so I agree with Forrester that web 2.0 tools can be very useful here. In my time as a corporate worker (I used to manage intranet and internet sites), collaboration was very difficult to achieve with traditional IT tools - so wikis, blogs and Web Office tools such as Google Apps have really raised the bar for collaboration in enterprises.

So which of the big vendors is making the most progress with Enterprise 2.0? According to Forrester, IBM has made "the boldest move into Enterprise 2.0 from any of the traditional vendors" - with Lotus Connections being their key product. Read/WriteWeb covered the launch of Connections in January 2007, noting also that Microsoft went on the defensive at that time with a press release touting SharePoint. Lotus Connections includes blogs, tagging, communities, profiles, and task management; Forrester wrote that it "represents a highly integrated platform that is enterprise-ready."

Forrester said of SharePoint that it "has had strong momentum in the market, and it's installed and under evaluation in many enterprises serving a variety of purposes."

In conclusion, the big vendors are all well and truly part of the web 2.0 landscape now. The products, like Lotus Connections and SharePoint, remain complex and broad in scope - which in many respects goes against the grain of simple and easy-to-use web 2.0 products. However Forrester points out what many of us have been saying for a while: that the big vendors will "acquire best-of-breed vendors to augment, extend, and cover gaps in their own enterprise Web 2.0 portfolios." Google has been on such a buying spree over the past year or so, and the other big vendors will do the same.

IBM 2.0 pic by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

No comments: